Part 3…Criminal in the Family

Welcome back to The Hogue Connection! Before I move ahead with Part 3 of this story, I’d like to note that I have used much of the information printed in the newspapers of the time to build it. I have a lot of births, deaths, and place names I’ve gathered in my family tree research available to me as well. The goal is to combine the two and make it easy to follow. Actual events were recorded though testimony and confession.

Keeping that in mind, I will try to present it in chronological order. I have also used a bit of artistic license with some of the dialogue, to make it easy to follow. Speculation? Sure…I’ve done some of that as well. I think I’ve done a good job of indicating that as we go along. The mysteries involved will not be clarified. Please sit back and read it and come up with ideas and theories of your own. Let’s get to it…

With the stage pretty well set in Washita County, OK, I thought I would throw in a few more facts about it. There are not a lot of folks around here, even back when the area was settled after the Land Run in 1892. The highest population in the entire county was in 1930, with 29,435 inhabitants. The 2010 census counted only 11,629 folks. Obviously, any news is big news around these parts, and our ancestor, my great uncle, Marion Newton Larner, our criminal in the family, gave the people of Washita County plenty to read about.

A Pretty Normal Beginning, I Think.

Marion Newton Larner was born 12 Aug 1902 to William Calvin Larner and Ida Novella Larner (née Davis) in the Elk Township, south part, at the Larner homestead. Dill wasn’t much then (pop. 240 in 1910), but it was the closest town of any size. Cordell was bigger, but nine miles away to the east. Marion attended Dill schools, the district there established in 1904. I’m sure he attended church there with his family as well. I have little info about Marion until 1918.

On 30 Mar 1918, Marion enlisted in the United States Army, not yet 16 years old. The American war effort in World War I was winding down at this time. He was assigned as a Private First Class in the 9th Field Artillery, 9th Division, Battery A at Fort Sill near Lawton, OK. Lawton is about 90 miles southwest of Dill City. Fort Sill had become the training center for much of the artillery units in the country. Records of this division are scarce. From what I can tell, they were never part of the war effort in WWI. Marion spent his entire military career two hours from home. He was honorably discharged on 12 Jun 1919 and returned to Dill.

A Sign of Things to Come?

A small article in the Thursday, 13 May 1920 issue of the Cordell Beacon tells of Marion’s first brush with the law. After some detective work by Washita County Sheriff W.H. “Harve” Dean, a rash of bogus checks were discovered at various merchants in the area. Three checks at The Dixie, and one at the Diamond “C”, each department stores in Cordell, were all traced back as forgeries by Marion Larner. The young Larner, only seventeen at the time, passed the checks at various times for different amounts, totaling over $100. After his arrest, he plead guilty to the charges.The article did not specify his sentence.

Any more mentions of Marion in the local paper for the next few years were mainly social announcements. For instance, on 27 Jan 1921, Marion attended a church function out in Spring Creek with his sisters Ruby and Effie. He was mentioned in the 13 Jul 1922 Cordell Beacon as teaching for the school district. He was noted many times visiting relatives, friends and attending church services. After the forgery, Marion Larner’s newspaper publicity was positive.

Neighbors and an Active Social Life Leads to Romance.

One neighbor the Larners became acquainted with through church was the family of Vinson Philo Bewley. Known as V.P., Bewley had come to Washita County from McClennan, TX in 1904. V.P., his wife Sallie, and six children, Hubert, Laura, George, Bertie Mae, Venie, and Raymond rented land in nearby Turkey Creek. Farming was great, and by 1920, they were able to buy their own property. The Bewleys became active in the community and added to the population with two more children, Ruby, and Lonnie. V.P.’s father, John Wesley Bewley, lived with the family for a time until his passing in 1921.

It wasn’t long until two of these children met and a courtship began. Marion Larner and Bertie Mae Bewley married in Cordell, on 31 Mar 1923. The couple settled in Dill and started raising their family. Everything was fine for them until around 1937, when life would become quite unsettled for the new couple. We’ll examine that in the next section of the story in Part 4.

Thanks for reading Part 3…Criminal in the Family on my blog! See you back at The Hogue Connection soon! You can return to the Home Page here.

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